Just as important as Languard’s physical layout is its population. Last week, I shared a first look at Languard’s map. This week, I’m diving into its population.
Given the PCs will likely interact with many of Languard’s folk over their adventuring career (unless—of course—their delves go horribly wrong) it makes sense to get a good feel for the city’s folk.
A Few Caveats
First a few caveats.
- While I’m designing Languard (and Gloamhold) for use with Pathfinder, 5e and OSR rules my system of choice is Pathfinder. Thus, I’m primarily considering Languard’s demographics through this prism. Some mechanic-speak inevitably appears below.
- I’ll be using the slow advancement track for my own Gloamhold campaign (and as a base for my setting design). This will have the effect of “depressing” the levels of NPCs in the city as clearly they’ll abide by the same rules as the PCs.
So, with those caveats out of the way the population looks something like this:
Of the city’s population, 90% of the population (roughly 7,200 individuals) are normal folk. This mass of people breaks down thus:
- 90% are normal folk. In Pathfinder terms, these would be 1st-level commoners. I can’t really see any justification for a commoner above 1st-level, so the vast majority of these folk will always be 1st-level.
- 5% or 360 people are experts in their field. These could be masons, sages, weaponsmiths and so on. In Pathfinder terms, these folk have 1-3 levels of expert. 1st-level experts are the norm; 2nd-level experts are experienced while 3rd-level experts are skilled folk known throughout the city (and probably Ashlar).
- 4% or 288 people are men-at-arms, soldiers, members of the city watch and so on. I’ve always thought the warrior class to be a little bit pointless; it’s essentially a weak fighter. Thus, these folk will be non-optimised fighters. Most will be 1st-level. Veterans will be 2nd-level while champion types will be 3rd-level. The city watch is 80 strong and all will have at least one level of fighter. (Additionally, in times of crisis a militia of 400 can be called up, but these will mainly be commoners or experts). The duke also employs his own soldiers which probably accounts for the bulk of the remaining warriors.
- 1% or 72 people belong to the noble class. Of course, these folk are not all nobles—some might be particularly wealthy merchants, fabulously wealthy (retired) adventurers and so on. Some will have 1-3 levels of aristocrat. Others will have levels in expert or a “normal” adventuring class.
As the largest population centre in Ashlar and the closest settlement to Gloamhold, Languard will have a greater than normal proportion of adventurers within its walls. Fully 10% of the population (or roughly 800 people) have one or more levels in a normal adventuring class (fighter, cleric and so on).
As a side note, I’m defining adventurers as someone who makes use of their class skills on a daily basis—clearly they are not all exploring Gloamhold (there would be traffic jams on the easier-accessible levels!) Rather these folk could be members of the thieves’ guild, mercenaries, folk passing through the city and so on. Spellcasters-for-hire also fall into this category.
The levels of NPCs in Languard will have a huge effect on the campaign. The slow advancement track—shockingly—slows level advancement which means there will be fewer NPCs of high level in the city. This matters for a few reasons:
- Spellcasting for Hire: NPCs who can cast spells on behalf of the PCs (and I’m thinking particularly of clerics and their various healing spells) will be rarer. This could be a “problem” for spells such as remove curse, remove disease and particularly raise dead.
- Magic Item Crafters for Hire: Fewer higher level spellcasters inevitably means fewer people available to craft magic items (beyond the basics such as potions and scrolls).
- Heroes of Renown: As the PCs gain levels they will become corresponding better known and more powerful and influential in the city. As you’ll see later, adventurers reaching the giddy height of 5th-level will be marked out as special folk capable of amazing feats.
Annoyingly, there are few real pointers on NPC level spread in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. The 3.5 Dungeon Master’s Guide does have a handy table, however, to allow generation of the highest-level locals in a settlement (but ludicrously for a small city it allows for the presence of 20th-level commoners!)
Rolling (selectively) on this table gives the following results:
- Barbarian 9th/9th
- Bard 12th/11th
- Cleric 9th/7th
- Druid 12th/11th
- Fighter 12th/8th
- Monk 10th/8th
- Paladin 9th/7th
- Ranger 9th/7th
- Rogue 13th/7th
- Sorcerer 10th/9th
- Wizard 9th/7th
(Additionally, the table enables us to work our how many lower-level members of any given class live in the city, but this part of the process doesn’t work for me as written as if leaves a bit of a shortfall—so I’ve left unlisted the number of 1st-level NPCs and assumed they account of the vast majority of unlisted adventurers.)
However, the numbers above are based on the 3.5 XP track, which is significantly faster to Pathfinder’s slow advancement track. For example, in 3.5 a 13th-level rogue has between 78,000 and 91,000 XP. Assuming he is halfway through the level, using the slow advancement track he would be 8th-level.
So modifying the numbers above by taking the half-way point gives us the following levels (I’ve also doubled the number of exceptional individuals in the city due to Gloamhold’s proximity):
- Barbarian 6th/6th/6th/5th (and six 4th-level, two 3rd-level and twelve 2nd-level)
- Bard 7th/7th/6th/6th (and four 5th-level, four 4th-level, eight 3rd-level and eight 2nd-level )
Cleric 6th/6th/6th/4th (and six 4th-level and fourteen 2nd-level)
- Druid 7th/6th/6th/5th (and two 5th-level, four 4th-level, six 3rd-level and eight 2nd-level)
- Fighter 7th/6th/6th/6th (and two 5th-level, six 4th-level, four 3rd-level and twelve 2nd-level )
- Monk 6th/6th/5th/5th (and four 4th-level, four 3rd-level and eight 2nd-level)
- Paladin 6th/5th/5th/5th (and two 4th-level, six 3rd-level and twelve 2nd-level )
- Ranger 6th/5th/5th/5th (and two 4th-level, six 3rd-level and four 2nd-level)
- Rogue 8th/8th/7th/5th (and four 6th-level, eight 4th-level, four 3rd-level and sixteen 2nd-level)
- Sorcerer 6th/6th/6th/5th (and six 4th-level, three 3rd-level and twelve 2nd-level)
- Wizard 6th/6th/6th/5th (and six 4th-level, two 3rd-level and twelve 2nd-level)
Now this isn’t to say higher-level folk are not extant in the city—as the all-powerful designer I can place who I want where I want—but it gives me a good baseline to calibrate the relative levels of the various NPCs.
For example, going back to the spellcaster-for-hire subject there are probably very few people capable of casting raise dead in the city; perhaps only the high priest of Conn has that power. (Although, it looks like reincarnate via Serat’s druidic followers is available—which practically forces me to create a bespoke reincarnate table!) Any half-way decent GM should take this into account when designing combat encounters. In Gloamhold, death is (probably) permanent.
For more about level progression and the slow advancement track, check out this companion article.
The Final Word
This level of pre-design work might not work for you, but I find it helps me imagine and conceptualise the various centres of power, factions and services in Languard. That—in turn—helps me create a flavourful city crammed full of cool—appropriate—features and folk for the PCs to encounter.
For more Languard, check out the city’s main page!
What Do You Think?
What do you think? Do you like this level of detail in your design or is it irrelevant? Let me know, in the comments below.